Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
Headquarters Location: New York, NY
Mission: The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
We believe that such an atmosphere engenders a positive sense of self, which is the basis of educational achievement and personal growth. Since homophobia and heterosexism undermine a healthy school climate, we work to educate teachers, students and the public at large about the damaging effects these forces have on youth and adults alike. We recognize that forces such as racism and sexism have similarly adverse impacts on communities and we support schools in seeking to redress all such inequities.
GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes in creating a more vibrant and diverse community. We welcome any and all individuals as members, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression or occupation, who are committed to seeing this philosophy realized in K-12 schools.
During what is already a period of change and self-exploration, LGBT youth face an additional struggle. They are often faced with messages of judgment, intolerance, and rejection. Messages targeted directly at the identities that they themselves are trying to understand and embrace. Consider their experiences. One student watches as politicians, on local and national platforms, debate his basic human rights and dignities. The simple act of going to the restroom at school becomes a source of anxiety for another student. The student who hears his peers joke around by calling each other “queer” or “fag.” Yet another who listens to the minister at their church tell the congregation that there is something fundamentally wrong with their identity.
GLSEN sends a powerful counter message. GLSEN not only accepts these students, but also lets them know that they are amazing, unique, and brave. A little over a year ago, I become involved with our local chapter in Middle Tennessee. In this short period, I have attended national events, met safe schools activists from around the country, and worked with some of the most inspirational youth I have ever had the privilege of knowing. GLSEN provides a space for adults and youth to come together to learn, listen, share, and laugh. I attribute it to the GLSEN magic—a special blend of inspiration, affirmation, and passion.
However, the strength of GLSEN depends on us. Many LGBT youth have stories of struggle, exclusion, fear, and insecurity. But with strong partners like GLSEN, these youth are changing their stories—to ones of empowerment and inclusion and love. But we can’t do it alone. We need individuals, like you, to stand up in support of LGBT youth. Stand up in support of acceptance. Stand up in support of our schools. How can you do this?
Be an ally.
It seems simple. It is. Identifying as an ally means that you believe all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, deserve to feel safe and supported. Identifying as an ally means that you will not use anti-LGBT language. Identifying as an ally means that you will support efforts to end anti-LGBT bias, bullying, and harassment in our schools.
I AM AN ALLY. If you are questioning the power of these four simple words, consider the impact that messages of intolerance have on LGBT youth. Your words send a message. Your words tell the student whose parents reject him that there is a place for him in this world. Your words lend support to the student who feels that her very identity is a sin. Your words provide affirmation to the student who hears taunts and name-calling as he walks through the hallways at school. You may not know these students’ names and you may never hear their stories, but your words can change their lives.
Take the ally pledge today! And if you want to provide further support to our safe schools advocacy and student leadership programming, consider volunteering or donating to your local GLSEN Chapter. Be an ally to LGBT youth. They will be change.
Expert Reviews of Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
Evidence of Impact Summary:Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) works to build a safer school community for students in grades K – 12. Through their thorough written resources and trainings, GLSEN offers the help that teachers and school administrators need to implement supportive curricula and school policies. Their data-driven approach has helped to uncover some essential lessons for the field, which is shared locally and nationally. GLSEN is well known and continues to be the “go-to” organization for school-related LGBT equality.
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Organization Strengths Summary:Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) has a talent for collaborating with other organizations. They partner with local organizations in a way that maximizes results. They also have great marketing and communication strategies. For example, they utilize music, online video, and celebrities to make their message mainstream. The research and data made available through GLSEN has informed the work organizations across the LGBT sector. GLSEN’s commitment to staff development and dedicated leadership are also major organizational strengths.
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Areas for Improvement Summary:Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) could improve on its branding and marketing to become more viable in the community. Experts suggest a more distinguished logo, increased visibility, and differentiating themselves from similar organizations. Experts would also like to see GLSEN grow their programming in various ways. For example, one expert would like to see more workshops and retreats for youth. GLSEN may also want to be careful about their collaborations in the future and only promise what they can definitely commit.
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Expert Comments: Evidence of Impact
Changing School Culture
|They are raising visibility for LGBT teachers, youth safety, and anti-bullying.|
|Their impact can be seen in their ubiquity. They found a polite way of getting into schools across the country and giving young LGBTQ people a place to hang their hat as they enter this field of work.|
|GLSEN has transformed the way teachers are prepared and schools educate around LGBT young people and issues.|
|GLSEN has made tremendous strides and accomplishments in creating LGBTQA equality in the K-12 school systems. They do this through policies and trainings for students and faculty as well as administrators.|
|GLSEN has been highly effective at "mainstreaming" LGBT issues within the education world so that safe schools for LGBT students is now a major agenda item for these communities.|
Valuable Trainings and Resources
|Providing state and national organizations with credible research, guidelines, and documentation regarding safe school policies and programs.|
|They have significantly raised the visibility of issues related to bullying. They also provide great resources.|
|GLSEN does numerous trainings for K-12 educators and administrators on LGBTQ inclusion. GLSEN often provides resources and services for free and I've personally seen the great work they do.|
|GLSEN runs programs nationwide that maintain grassroots efforts in schools. Their training helps create safe spaces, give LGBT kids protection from bigotry, and helps these kids and their allies provide education in their communities.|
|Their materials are widely used and respected. They are seen as a resource that meets the needs of school districts that have a challenging time introducing new and controversial curriculums.|
Work with Rural Areas
|The work GLSEN did to bring effective outreach and participate in data tracking to rural states has had a huge impact on the ability of folks to organize and respond to needs.|
|I recommend this organization because of their work in rural parts of the country, working with LGBTQ and straight youth.|
Local & National Impact
|Their work with youth has had a major impact both nationally and locally in Oregon. Their support of GSAs is very impactful.|
|They produce specific and useable research and recommendations. They also offer support for Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs).|
|GLSEN works to ensure that LGBT issues are reflected accurately and fairly within the media. It also conducts research that is essential to local groups being able to justify their programs and services and to obtain grant funding.|
|GLSEN has done an incredible job of highlighting the real challenges that LGBT youth face in schools. Their school climate surveys provide the only data about the experiences of LGBT youth at school, and their research shows both the need for, and the impact of, safe schools laws, supportive teachers, and school groups for LGBT youth. GLSEN has brought the issue of harassment and bullying in schools for LGBT youth to a larger, national audience.|
|The work that GLSEN does on safe school environment for LGBT youth has spurred a movement to address bullying and discrimination in public schools. This work is groundbreaking and based on unique and ongoing research!|
|GLSEN's national school climate survey is an invaluable statistical source for school safety efforts and is a guaranteed trigger for media and academic attention each year. It provides useful information for policy makers, educators, parents, and the LGBT youth community.|
|They are research-based and data-driven. The organization provides the resources needed and distributes them effectively.|
|GLSEN continues to be the go-to organization working on LGBT issues in our schools. No other national organization is as focused and successful in this area.|
|GLSEN has done a stand-up job of making their presence known within the media. It seems like every time there is an issue that has to do with the LGBT community a representative from GLSEN is always interviewed. The representative is well-versed and articulates the issue in a manner that is very clear.|
Expert Comments: Organization Strengths
|They have strong staff and strong coalition building ability.|
|They have strong vision and they interface with a broad community.|
|A major strength is that they work with local organizations in a collaborative manner to maximize results.|
|They have great focus and their website is useable and accessible.|
|They have great online strategies and utilize video, music, and celebrities to expand and entrench their cause in the minds of people across the country. They are incredibly good at mainstreaming themselves. I don't always love the idea of mainstreaming, but it's necessary given the public K-12 setup.|
|They have bold leadership. They also have good communications and strong toolkits.|
|They have amazing marketing, research, and materials, which is very useful for other LGBT organizations. Other organizations regularly cite and use their data and materials.|
|GLSEN has an excellent history of dedicating resources to long-term research that is helpful for showing trends in the LGBT movement, while also showing areas which still require a significant amount of work. GLSEN places interns in communities that need additional assistance in monitoring media reports, calling out falsehoods, and advocating for better representation of LGBT individuals in the media.|
|The high-quality resources developed by GLSEN are a major strength, as are the leadership staff at GLSEN, who are unwavering in their commitment and direction.|
|Their strength is that they were doing this work from the start and have built long-standing relationships and have a knowledge base that his unrivaled.|
|They have great leadership management. Also, this organization has great staff trainings available.|
|They have strong leadership, great facilitator training, and they offer free or sliding scale workshops. They are also driven towards their mission.|
|Their internal staff development for chapter members is fantastic.|
|They have strong leadership and good visibility.|
|They have strong leadership and staff.|
|Their strengths include public credibility and a leader, Eliza Bayard, who has strong credentials in evaluation and data.|
|They have strong leadership, evaluated programs, and a solid, diversified funding base.|
|They have strong leadership. They also have a great structure. They are national with local affiliates.|
|They have strong programming.|
|The organization’s anti-bullying initiative seems to be on fire and gaining attention. Another strength of theirs is their "Ally Week," a campaign which many people are jumping on board with.|
Expert Comments: Areas for Improvement
Branding & Marketing
|They could use better marketing and stronger outreach.|
|They could improve upon their marketing and develop a more recognizable logo and brand, such as what HRC does.|
|This field has many players now, and GLSEN needs to continue to distinguish itself amongst all the other players.|
|They could improve by having more visibility in mainstream society and more publicity.|
|GLSEN could almost certainly use more financial resources and a larger staff, as well as more aggressive program resources for classroom-level educators to use to promote student safety.|
|Their work often isn't at the forefront.|
|They should involve the youth they support in more of the functioning of the organization. Similarly, they should provide more opportunities for their constituency to actively engage in leadership.|
|They could use an expansion of services and resources. I would also like to see increased contact to K-12 educators and students.|
|I would like to see more regional training.|
|I would love to see GLSEN dabble a bit more in programmatic initiatives. More workshops or retreats for youth, that way they could get their message farther out there.|
|GLSEN sometimes "jumps on the bandwagon" when local issues arise and offers resources for which it cannot always provide due to timing and financial issues. This can put local organizations in a lurch when those offered resources and relationships do not come to fruition. And, and times, it appears as though there is a lack of communication among the people at the national level, which makes it confusing for people working at the local level.|